Ovens are a regular feature in any house and are used in roasting and heating food items. An oven is a hollow chamber that is heated in a controlled manner. You can bake a cake, bread, meat, casseroles and many more dishes in an oven. In today’s age, ovens use a heating element to generate heat inside the oven, and a temperature controller controls the heat inside it. Moreover, the ovens include several shelves where you can place the food.
If you have just got yourself a new oven or are looking to create your bakeware collection from scratch, you will need to understand the different pans used and their uses. Thus, to place any food inside the oven, you will need some base, which is a pan. You cannot place food directly on the oven shelf or grill, as there is considerable heat inside the oven for extended periods, any type of wood or plastic pan cannot be used. Therefore metal pans are used. At some point in time, you would have wondered what’s the difference between a baking pan, a sheet pan, and a cookie sheet. Also, there are jelly roll pans and half sheets.
The flat rectangular pan that is used to place food inside the oven is called a baking sheet. It is also otherwise termed and referred to as a baking tray or sheet pan, all meaning the same.
Characteristics of a baking sheet
A baking sheet is one of the most multi-functional pieces. Usually, bakeware will determine the success or failure of a baking recipe. When we talk of a baking sheet, there are certain features and design characteristics we are looking at.
Being predominantly made of metal, you can use any metal to construct it as long it is good at conducting heat. The most easily available materials in the food appliances industry are aluminum and steel and so you will find most pans made with these.
The entire pan has nothing special but is just a sheet of metal, and the only feature that a baking sheet has is that it will need a flat edge to help remove food easily. Also a small continuous rim on all its sides that will allow some amount of liquid to collect and also hold in other foods like cookies (imagine trying to pick up a baking sheet with a layer of cookies and the cookies slipping off the tray if it has no rim). You can experience this when baking meat like whole chicken and turkey when the fat in the meat will drip down into the baking sheet. Therefore, the baking sheet has to allow a shallow outer rim. This rim must extend to all its sides to prevent any liquids from being lost.
Baking pans are used for baking both sweet and savory dishes. Savory and other acidic ingredients can react with the metal. Keep it in mind when choosing the perfect baking sheet for the job. You can prevent the food from reacting with the metal by placing a silicone liner or parchment paper when baking. These papers will also help the food from sticking to the baking sheet and keeping it clean, like baking cookies.
Also, since you will be using oven gloves to handle the baking sheet, it should have handles or a place where you can hold and pick up the tray with ease.
The baking sheet should not discolor the food at any temperature or operating condition. Nevertheless, some sheets can even end up giving the food an undesirable metallic taste.
Some baking sheets come with nonstick coatings, and their usage is intuitive. However, you do not need a nonstick baking sheet, as the regular ones will do fine. A nonstick coating may not last long and will eventually wear off, leaving a half-coated dirty-looking sheet. While the nonstick coating itself is darker and so the pans will absorb more heat compared to the usual aluminum sheets. Thereby, it produces cookies that are surprisingly a darker version than expected. In the end, we would prefer the simple no-holds-barred aluminum ones.
A gauge in a pan or any material indicates and is a measure of its thickness. Interestingly, a lower gauge will mean a greater thickness and vice versa.
At a high heat level, when the tray is exposed to heat for longer durations, like 90 minutes or more, you certainly want the tray to be rigid and not lose its shape in the process. This will defeat its entire purpose. Thus, the baking sheet has to stay rigid at operating temperatures of the oven.
While the food is exposed to the heat and is cooked, it is also placed directly on the baking sheet, which will also conduct the oven’s heat. The oven will maintain a uniform cooking temperature throughout the process. However, the food is placed on the baking sheet, and you would want the thermal conductivity of the baking sheet to be high so that the food is evenly cooked. For the same reason, the mass of the baking sheet and its color are equally important too.
That’s how basic the design of a baking sheet is. How the pan performs in an oven varied with material and other factors. Purchasing the most expensive bakeware is no guarantee that it will perform well. Therefore, it’s important to choose one which has been used and reviewed by many.
Nowadays, the materials used to make sheet pans come in hard anodized bakeware, modern silicone with reinforced rims, stainless steel, heavy-gauge aluminum, and even more. Baking sheets are also manufactured in a variety of standard sizes and aluminum grades. Furthermore, for your easy reference, we have shared the standard sizes for the baking sheets.
These are the common baking tray dimensions.
|Conventional US size||Outer width||Outer depth||Outer height||Outer width||Outer depth||Outer height|
|Two Thirds – (Three Quarters)||21||15||1||533||381||25|
|Quarter – 1/4th||13||9.5||1||330||241||25|
|Eighth – 1/8th||9.5||6.5||1||241||165||25|
How to use your sheet pans?
There are a few ways to use this cookware. We have listed some of them below:
Roasting vegetables is the easiest use of the sheet and the oven. You can roast a variety of vegetables on your way to making delicious tasting recipes. Besides, roasting is also the key to good health and uses little to no oil, whereas the vegetables will come out nice and hot and ready. If you want crisp vegetables, we advise you to preheat the oven and the baking sheet so that it’s nice and hot for vegetables like potatoes. Moreover, all sorts of vegetables can be roasted in the oven. If the baking sheet tray has low sides, it will let more heat circulate the food. Thereby, roasting the vegetable perfectly from all sides. Hence, this will lead to even cooking and crispy tasting vegetables.
Drying herbs and produce:
You can lay all your favorite berries, herbs, and more to dry them out. Set the oven on the lowest temperature setting and leave them for an hour. Thus, give them a thorough check every 10 minutes and toss them around a bit to ensure they all get evenly cooked from all the sides. Check online for the exact instructions and baking times for every herb or produce as they will surely vary. Also, follow the instruction well to dry them out perfectly well.
Use a wire rack to get crisp meats
To circulate air around the foods like meat or pizzas, use a wire rack that will hold the food that you are cooking away from the base of the baking sheet. Thus, this method will deliver an entirely different taste.
Cook the grains
Baking is an excellent way for batch processing of a large number of items. So if you want to cook a large batch of some grains, your best bet is to bake them. Moreover, use parchment paper to separate the grain from the tray. Else the lower layers will get more heat than the layers of grains on the top. Then spread the grains evenly on the parchment paper. Give them a baking cycle to cook them, stir them intermittently to cook them evenly. In a few minutes, your job is done. Finally, give them some time to cool off naturally. Nevertheless, this is an excellent way to cook grains by keeping them dry.
Bake some Slab Pie, Bars, Pies or Cookies
Baking sheet pans and cookies go hand in hand since they are the perfect test of your culinary abilities, the oven, and the baking sheet. A half sheet pan can be used to bake some of the finest cookies and pies. Cookies can be baked directly on any sheet, and you do not need any special attachments or especially nonstick coated baking sheets, to get the job done. Simple use parchment paper or a silicone baking mat to ensure the cookies do not stick to the surface of the sheet. If you are short of parchment paper, just lightly grease the baking sheet with oil or butter, and you will be fine.
Furthermore, sheet pans are the essential workhorses that will help you roast crispy bacon chips, vegetables, holiday cookies, etc. But it can be difficult to choose the perfect baking sheet out there as there are a lot of options to choose from. Since we have understood the requirements, let review one of the best baking sheets available in the market.
Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker’s Half Sheet
This baking sheet is made of pure aluminum. It’s easy to use, and easy to clean up using hand wash only. The rectangular pan’s exterior dimensions are 17.88 x 12.88 x 1.06 inches and the interior dimensions measure 16.5 x 11.38 x 1 inches. With such a large dimension, it is amazing that it weighs just 1.06 pounds. The best part about Nordic ware is that they bake everything evenly. Also, high heat does not affect their oven performance.
This is one of the best all-purpose baking sheets at half the price of its competitors and will bake you several pounds of fries, pizzas, cookies, and lots more. As the baking sheet is made with the finest quality of aluminum having superior heat conductivity, the food items being baked will get evenly heated in the sheet. Due to even heat distribution, the food will rise and bake evenly. You will be glad to see that the cookies will get an even golden texture when using them. This is the perfect baking sheet for warming, toasting, roasting, baking, and more.
For added rigidity and strength, the steel rims are encapsulated to prevent any warping. For those that are environmentally conscious, this sheet is great because aluminum is a highly recyclable material. The natural wear and tear will not harm the sheet. Unlike nonstick sheets, it does not have a coating that you have to be careful about.
Furthermore, this product should not be used in dishwashers as it will cause discoloration. It retails for $11 – $20 on online portals, depending on the offers.
Baking sheets are an essential item in your home. The choice will affect the quality of baking and how the final recipes taste. It’s not that expensive a product because it will last you ages. There is practically nothing on a baking tray that will break or stop working. Apart from a few scratches here and there from regular use, your baking sheet is a workhorse that will work without any complaints. So do choose one that’s the best in the market or the best you can afford. Trust us, you will not regret the decision. I hope the article’s information helped you and will also assist you in choosing the perfect baking tray for your kitchen. Happy baking!